Israel's billion-dollar spy plane goes into operation

Oron reconnaissance aircraft, a $1 billion aircraft model, has been deployed in the field by a number of Israeli military units, according to this country’s media.

“The Israeli Air Force’s newest spy plane, the Oron, has become fully operational. Defense Ministry officials took advantage of the urgent situation from the war in the Gaza Strip to shorten the approval process to “There are still a few days left, instead of months,” Israeli newspaper Ynet said on March 26, citing a separate source.

The Oron aircraft has conducted more than 100 incursions and accumulated hundreds of flight hours since entering service. Each flight lasts 5-10 hours and can travel thousands of kilometers. Israeli military intelligence, navy and air force are the forces using this reconnaissance model.

The newspaper did not reveal which missions the plane was deployed to perform and where. However, Ynet writes that it is “capable of providing real-time support from above for counter-insurgency operations in the West Bank, carrying out reconnaissance missions in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip to Take down Hamas gunmen mixed with civilians, detect convoys carrying weapons from Iran to Iraq, identify key personnel in Iran’s nuclear program and target vehicles carrying gunmen immediately between the Lebanese capital Beirut.” All can be done at altitudes above 12,000 meters,” it wrote.

Information about the Oron aircraft being put into operation was revealed after the Israeli Air Force brought this aircraft model to display at the Paris Air Show in France in June 2023. At the end of August of the same year, the General Directorate of Defense Research and Development of the Israeli Ministry of Defense said that the Oron aircraft’s intelligence system was ready to operate and it was conducting test flights.

The Oron reconnaissance aircraft was jointly developed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the country’s Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It was assigned to the Nachshon Squadron, stationed at Nevatim Air Base, central Israel, in April 2021. This aircraft model costs one billion USD and is considered the most modern spy plane in the world.

Oron is built on the basis of the Gulfstream G550 commercial aircraft, which can provide comprehensive real-time intelligence information in all weather and visibility conditions, including a map of the enemy’s ground force distribution.

The Oron reconnaissance aircraft inherits the advantages of the Gulfstream G550 aircraft: low maintenance costs and “excellent flight capabilities”, according to Israeli media. Oron is equipped with artificial intelligence technology, IAI radar and other advanced intelligence collection systems.

Major General Amikam Norkin, former commander of the Israeli Air Force, said that the country’s staffing of Oron reconnaissance aircraft is “a move that reflects the operational vision of mobilizing advanced intelligence gathering capabilities suitable for the war.” modern battlefield, allowing combat on many large battlefields.”